Have you ever had a ridiculously vivid memory hit you out of nowhere? I’m not talking about a casual passing thought: “Oh, it was really nice when <<insert great memory here>> happened.” I mean that intense kind of nostalgia, where it feels like all five of your senses are right back in a specific time and place that you haven’t even thought about in years. Has this happened to you?
Well, it happened to me last night. I was sitting on the couch reading a book, and for no real reason that I can think of, I suddenly had this crazy clear mental image of the library at my elementary school. And when I tell you I could picture every single part of it, I really mean it.
I could visualize the library’s two entrances — the one that my class shuffled into, and the one that we were escorted out of at the end of library time — and when I recalled the long, asymmetrical room, I remembered exactly where I used to go to find the Redwall series (I know, I was a total nerd), and where I used to hunt for books about puppy care when I was trying to convince my parents that I really needed a dog of my own (I mean, I still do, obviously). I could pick out the exact banks of shelves where I spent most of my time: they were right across from the front entrance, and they were filled with historical fiction books that were ahead of my reading level for most of my elementary school career. I spent so much time crouched in those shelves that by the time I was the “right” age for them, I had almost run out of books to read. I could see in my head the rows of “nice” computers — much nicer and newer than the ones in the school’s dark computer lab, which is hilarious to think about when you realize that they still used giant floppy disks. We were so excited when we got to use those computers instead of the weird gray ones in the lab. (Does anyone have computer labs anymore?) There were big windows that faced the courtyard, and sometimes you could see other kids running back and forth during recess while you were supposed to be taking a reading test.
I haven’t been in that library in over 15 years, and I haven’t thought about it for almost as long, but it felt really good to go back — and even better to know that I hadn’t forgotten about it. It probably will come as no surprise to you that the library was one of my favorite places as a kid, so I kind of love that it’s embedded itself into my brain in such detail all these years later. I hope it comes back to me again in weirdly vivid flashes like that, because it brought back so many memories, and reminded me why I love what I do. Stories have always been my thing, and it’s such a privilege — even on the tougher days — to be able to tell them in all kinds of ways… as my job. And even on the tougher days, I have to ask myself: how did I get so lucky? I needed that little reminder this week!
Are there any places from your childhood that you can still picture in vivid detail? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below! Happy Throwback Thursday!